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Can a landlord evict a tenant to sell the property?

As a general rule, a tenant has the right to stay in a rental property until the end of their Lease Agreement. When someone buys a home with a tenant in it, they become the landlord. The original lease terms usually continue until the Lease Agreement expires unless both the landlord and tenant agree to make changes.

Selling the property might give either the seller or the buyer a special legal right to cancel a tenant's lease or evict. The right to cancel the lease or evict could be due to state or local law, or the Lease Agreement. Many leases have a home selling clause, or some other contract term, that allows a seller or buyer to cancel in the event of a sale. The law usually requires a 30 or 60 day notice to the tenant if they will be required to leave. 

When legally allowed to cancel the lease due to a sale, the tenant must receive proper notice, and the tenant usually must move out by the end of the notice period. If they do not, you may be able to evict them after providing an Eviction Notice. To prepare for an eviction, an Eviction Process Worksheet can help you organize the information you will need.

What are the tenant's rights if a landlord decides to sell the property?

When a landlord decides to sell a property, the tenant typically keeps all of their rights under the lease or the law. The tenant may be entitled to all of the services and amenities required by the lease while they are still on the property. The lease usually cannot be changed without the tenant's agreement.

A landlord generally does not need to let the tenant know they are planning to sell. For example, if the property is being sold to another landlord who intends to keep the tenant, the new landlord can usually just tell the tenant when the sale is final. Then they can explain who to pay rent to or call for maintenance.

Local law or the lease may require notice to the tenant before any showings or pre-sale inspections that involve their unit. This is often in the part of the lease that requires a landlord to provide notice before entering for repairs, maintenance, or other reasons.

If a seller or buyer is asking the tenant to move out before the end of the lease, they must usually give them a specific written notice that complies with the lease and state or local law. Notice of the sale by itself is not enough since the tenant normally has the right to stay until the end of their lease, even after a sale. These are unique situations where both buyers and sellers can benefit from asking a lawyer for help.

Can a landlord evict a tenant to renovate the property?

Whether there is a plan to sell, or not, landlords often want to update and remodel their properties. When remodelling without selling, in areas with strong renter protections, it can be difficult to remove a tenant, even temporarily for renovations. The tenant generally has the right to quietly enjoy the home until their lease ends. After a lease ends, and a Notice of Non-Renewal has been provided, evicting a tenant who refuses to leave so you can renovate may be possible.

Even if a tenant's lease is expiring, some areas require landlords to offer tenants a chance to renew the lease. This can make it hard for you to plan to renovate between tenants if the tenant wants to stay after their initial lease ends.

If you plan to remodel before selling, you might be able to require the tenant to move out due to the sale. You can ask a lawyer or check your local laws to see if a buyer has to already be in place or not. Also, the landlord should carefully write everything down about their efforts to sell the property. If the sale does not happen and the tenant sees you renting the property to a new tenant, they may say that you never really intended to sell the property and sue for wrongful eviction.

Are there alternatives to eviction if the landlord wants to renovate the property?

If a landlord wants to renovate a property with a tenant in it, there are several choices:

  • Ask if the tenant is willing to end the lease early. For example, the landlord might pay moving costs and let the tenant stay without paying rent for the last month or two.
  • Temporarily move the tenant into another unit.
  • Permanently move the tenant into another unit.
  • For a partial renovation on a larger unit, see if the tenant will agree to stay in a portion of the unit and pay a discounted rental rate during the work.

Any of these options usually require the tenant to agree. If you need a tenant to sign a Lease Amendment or another agreement for a renovation or sale, you can use Rocket Sign to securely collect digital signatures. If the renovation is due to health and safety issues, such as a leak that caused mold in the walls, a landlord may be legally required to provide other housing or to pay the tenant's moving costs.

To learn more about a landlord's right to renovate and sell, or to get answers to your legal questions about buying, selling, or renovating a rental property, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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